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Cablegate: Israel Media Reaction

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DE RUEHTV #1560/01 2000951
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P 180951Z JUL 08
FM AMEMBASSY TEL AVIV
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 7590
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RHMFIUU/CNO WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHDC PRIORITY
RUEHAD/AMEMBASSY ABU DHABI PRIORITY 4158
RUEHAS/AMEMBASSY ALGIERS PRIORITY 0765
RUEHAM/AMEMBASSY AMMAN PRIORITY 4463
RUEHAK/AMEMBASSY ANKARA PRIORITY 4936
RUEHLB/AMEMBASSY BEIRUT PRIORITY 4150
RUEHEG/AMEMBASSY CAIRO PRIORITY 2464
RUEHDM/AMEMBASSY DAMASCUS PRIORITY 4907
RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON PRIORITY 1764
RUEHFR/AMEMBASSY PARIS PRIORITY 2211
RUEHRB/AMEMBASSY RABAT PRIORITY 8761
RUEHRO/AMEMBASSY ROME PRIORITY 6241
RUEHRH/AMEMBASSY RIYADH PRIORITY 1150
RUEHTU/AMEMBASSY TUNIS PRIORITY 5263
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK PRIORITY 7221
RUEHJM/AMCONSUL JERUSALEM PRIORITY 0108
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RHMFISS/COMSOCEUR VAIHINGEN GE PRIORITY
RHMFIUU/COMSIXTHFLT PRIORITY

UNCLAS TEL AVIV 001560

STATE FOR NEA, NEA/IPA, NEA/PPD

WHITE HOUSE FOR PRESS OFFICE, SIT ROOM
NSC FOR NEA STAFF

SECDEF WASHDC FOR USDP/ASD-PA/ASD-ISA
HQ USAF FOR XOXX
DA WASHDC FOR SASA
JOINT STAFF WASHDC FOR PA
CDR USCENTCOM MACDILL AFB FL FOR POLAD/USIA ADVISOR
COMSOCEUR VAIHINGEN GE FOR PAO/POLAD
COMSIXTHFLT FOR 019

JERUSALEM ALSO ICD
LONDON ALSO FOR HKANONA AND POL
PARIS ALSO FOR POL
ROME FOR MFO

SIPDIS
E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: OPRC KMDR IS

SUBJECT: ISRAEL MEDIA REACTION

--------------------------------
SUBJECTS COVERED IN THIS REPORT:
--------------------------------

1. Mideast

2. Iran

-------------------------
Key stories in the media:
-------------------------

Ha'aretz reported that Israel and Hamas have not yet agreed to renew
negotiations over Gilad Shalit's release, despite the completion of
the Hizbullah prisoner swap and the relative quiet on the southern
front that were supposed to advance talks on a swap with Hamas.
Hamas seems now to be refusing to back down from the list of
hundreds of prisoners whose release it demands. However, Israel has
only approved 71 names on the list. Ha'aretz quoted a senior
official saying on Thursday that Israel believes that Hamas wants to
continue to hold Shalit as an asset securing their rule in Gaza.
Israel Radio quoted senior sources in Jerusalem as saying that the
squabble between Israel and Hizbullah is not about the number of
Palestinian prisoners to be released, but about their identity. The
Jerusalem Post reported that in the aftermath of the
Israel-Hizbullah swap, there are increasing calls in Hamas to
replace the Egyptian mediators with German intermediaries in the
talks on Shalit.

Yediot reported that Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice conveyed a
reassuring message to Israel regarding the shift in the United
States' Iran policy, saying that the U.S. will not abandon its
allies. Ha'aretz reported that this week John Rood, Under Secretary
of State for Arms Control and International Security, met senior
security and Foreign Ministry officials in Jerusalem. Ha'aretz
quoted Rood as saying during talks in Israel that the U.S. will not
give up on the demand that Iran cease the uranium enrichment
process, and that the U.S. will not negotiate directly with Iran.
Rood was quoted as saying that what is perceived in Israel as a U.S.
policy change is a one-off move that can be useful when the U.S.
wants to enlist the international community for sanctions against
Iran. Ha'aretz also reported that this week the Chinese government
dispatched its Deputy FM to Israel to hold talks about the Iranian
nuclear project. The newspaper quoted a senior diplomatic source in
Jerusalem as saying yesterday that the move resulted from Beijing's
concern that Israel is about to move militarily against Iran. In an


interview he granted to The Jerusalem Post this week, Transportation
Minister Shaul Mofaz defended his hawkish statements about a
prospective attack on Iran. He was quoted as saying: "We cannot let
a dangerous regime threaten the entire world."

Israel Radio reported that over the past few weeks the Shin Bet and
police have arrested in the Jerusalem area six Israeli Arabs -- two
of them students at the Hebrew University -- suspected of belonging
to Al-Qaida. The radio reported that they intended to attack
President Bush during his visit to Israel.

All major media extensively reported and commented on the funerals
of IDF soldiers Ehud (Udi) Goldwasser and Eldad Regev.

The Jerusalem Post reported that Hizbullah is bolstering its
presence in south Lebanon villages with non-Shi'ite majorities by
buying land and using it to build military positions and store
missiles and launchers. The Jerusalem Post reported that media in
Lebanon and the Arab world cast doubt on Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah's
victory claims.

The media reported that yesterday PM Ehud Olmert's lawyer, Eli
Zohar, accused the state of cutting a deal with Morris Talansky by
making it clear to the U.S. businessman that he would not be
considered a corruption suspect in return for his giving the state
the answers it wanted. Talansky denied the allegation and said he
had told the truth without any strings attached. The media reported
that Olmert's lawyers did not succeed in "crushing" Talansky.

Channel 2-TV reported last night that opposition leader Benjamin
Netanyahu has been accumulating El Al frequent flyer miles and using
them for his wife's benefit. If true, this would stand in flagrant
violation of the Knesset Ethics Committee guidelines.

Ha'aretz reported that during an interfaith conference in Spain, in
an apparent easing of traditional Saudi hostility toward Israel,
King Abdullah has urged followers of all the world's leading
religions to embrace reconciliation. Ha'aretz quoted Jerusalem
sources as saying that Israel and Saudi Arabia have been holding
meetings to discuss regional issues.

Ha'aretz reported that on Wednesday ambassadors from Arab countries
and the Persian Gulf attended the farewell reception for outgoing
Israeli Ambassador to the UN Dan Gillerman in his Manhattan
apartment. Ha'aretz quoted a senior UN affairs reporter for a U.S.
television network as saying he does not remember such an impressive
Arab presence at a diplomatic event in New York for a senior
Israeli. The newspaper reported that among the guests were the
ambassadors of Egypt, Jordan, Qatar, and Oman. Gillerman gave a
particular mention to the Palestinian observer at the UN, Riyad
Mansour, who attended the event. Yediot filed a similar story.

The Jerusalem Post reported that PA-Hamas reconciliation efforts
suffered a setback yesterday as PA President Mahmoud Abbas called
Hamas leader Khaled Mashal a liar.

The Jerusalem Post reported that yesterday Meretz Knesset Member
Yossi Beilin called on European countries to declare how many
Palestinian refugees and their descendants they would be willing to
absorb as part of any future peace agreement between Israel and the
Palestinians.

The Jerusalem Post reported that British PM Gordon Brown will
address the Knesset plenum on Monday.

Ha'aretz reported that the investigation into the police use of
wiretapping during the criminal probe of Vice PM Haim Ramon will
enter the evidentiary phase next week.

The Jerusalem Post quoted Turkish Energy Minister Hilmi Guler as
saying Thursday after talks with Israeli National Infrastructure
Minister Benjamin Ben-Eliezer that Turkey and Israel will begin
building a five-billion Euro pipeline next year to transport Caspian
natural gas and oil to the east Mediterranean. The project will
also transport water, electricity, and fiber-optic cables under the
sea.

The Jerusalem Post reported that Israel's Bank Hapoalim has signed
an agreement to purchase approximately 78% of Moscow-based SDM Bank,
becoming the first Israeli bank to acquire a Russian bank. Bank
Hapoalim announced yesterday that the deal is based on a company
evaluation of $142.5 million.

------------
1. Mideast:
------------

Summary:
--------

Former Editor-in-Chief David Landau wrote in the independent,
left-leaning Ha'aretz: "The moment he agreed to negotiate for the
return of Regev and Goldwasser without demanding proof that they
were alive, Olmert turned himself and the state into a doormat for
terrorists."

The conservative, independent Jerusalem Post editorialized: "Now
that Lebanon and Hizbullah have apparently melded, the
self-defeating legacy of IDF inhibition must end."

Senior op-ed writer Akiva Eldar commented in Ha'aretz: "What price
has Syria paid recently in return for the entry ticket to the
West?.... Now is not the time for Olmert to do business with the
Syrians."

Block Quotes:
-------------

I. "False Pretenses"

Former Editor-in-Chief David Landau wrote in the independent,
left-leaning Ha'aretz (7/18): "Israel's conduct in the Regev and
Goldwasser case is not just a continuation of its weakening stance
or a sharp turn for the worse. It is a total break. Walking
straight into the trap that Nasrallah set for him, with his eyes
wide open, Olmert has scrambled together, and thereby trampled
underfoot, the most basic tenets of human ethics and Jewish
tradition -- the sanctity of human life, which comes before all, and
the principles of 'respect for the dead' and 'Jewish burial,' which
are certainly important, but on a totally different level of
importance. The moment he agreed to negotiate for the return of
Regev and Goldwasser without demanding proof that they were alive,
Olmert turned himself and the state into a doormat for terrorists.
He has turned the sacrifice of those who died in the Second Lebanon
War into a sacrifice in vain."

II. "The New Lebanon"

The conservative, independent Jerusalem Post editorialized (7/18):
"Now that Lebanon and Hizbullah have apparently melded, the
self-defeating legacy of IDF inhibition must end. At the start of
the Second Lebanon War, former IDF chief of staff Dan Halutz warned
bombastically that Israel would '[turn back the clock in Lebanon by
20 years' if Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev were not returned. No
one took him seriously -- Israel would never punish 'good Lebanon'
for the crimes of 'bad Hizbullah.' The IAF limited itself to mostly
targeting Islamic strongholds. But if Lebanon and Hizbullah are now
one, Israel needs a radically revised strategy for winning a war on
Lebanese soil. Artificial distinctions between 'Lebanese' and
Hizbullah' targets were swept away by Wednesday's display of
barbaric unity. Lebanon was revealed in its hostile unanimity. If
new conflict comes, Israel must internalize that unanimity of
hate-filled purpose, and defeat it decisively."

III. "Wake Up and Smell the Coffee"

Senior op-ed writer Akiva Eldar commented in Ha'aretz (7/18):
"Sarkozy's predecessor, Jacques Chirac, who vowed to exact justice
from Assad over the murder of his Lebanese friend, Rafiq Hariri,
must have turned over in his armchair [during the Bastille Day
celebrations]. And why does the Syrian President deserve all this
beneficence? What price has Syria paid recently in return for the
entry ticket to the West? Nuclear cooperation with North Korea?
Supplying missiles to Hizbullah? The media are reporting on the
'smuggling' of arms from Syria to Hizbullah. Even the United
Nations, which is not considered a fan of Israel in these parts,
determined that there is a regular supply of weapons with the
blessing of the Damascus government.... Would Olmert ask for the
hand of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas if IDF Intelligence were
to place photographs of Russian-made missiles that the PA supplied
to Hamas on the Prime Minister's desk? Israel is showing restraint
and even being good to Syria -- why shouldn't Syria continue to make
the most of all worlds? Now is not the time for Olmert to do
business with the Syrians."

---------
2. Iran:
---------

Summary:
--------

Washington correspondent Orly Azolai wrote in the mass-circulation,
pluralist Yediot Aharonot: "The Bush administration now intends to
do exactly what Obama has proposed -- talk with the enemy.... It is
hard to assume that [Bush] will be able to do in six months what he
has not done in eight years."

Deputy Managing Editor and right-wing columnist Caroline B. Glick
wrote in the conservative, independent Jerusalem Post: "President
George W. Bush's decision to leave the door wide open for an Israeli
preemptive strike on Iran is a positive development. But an open
door is only significant if someone is willing to walk through it."
Block Quotes:
-------------

I. "Last Zigzag for a Farewell"

Washington correspondent Orly Azolai wrote in the mass-circulation,
pluralist Yediot Aharonot (7/18): "As Bush is slated to go home as
[a president] who has brought an economic catastrophe to his
country, he is trying toward the end of his term to score at least
one achievement. And what does a desperate president do? He gives
a green light to a group of State Department officials who proposed
to open an interests section in Iran. This won't happen fast, but
such a bureau is now Bush's distinct interest.... The Bush
administration now intends to do exactly what Obama has proposed --
talk with the enemy. The only problem in Bush's revolutionary
makeover is that he doesn't exactly believe in it but that he is
being dragged into it. Even this dragging is too late. It is hard
to assume that he will be able to do in six months what he has not
done in eight years."

II. "Israel's Unwanted Open Door"

Deputy Managing Editor and right-wing columnist Caroline B. Glick
wrote in the conservative, independent Jerusalem Post (7/18):
"Mindful of the [1991 Gulf War] precedent set by his father,
President George W. Bush's decision to leave the door wide open for
an Israeli preemptive strike on Iran is a positive development. But
an open door is only significant if someone is willing to walk
through it. And it is far from clear that the
Olmert-Livni-Barak-Yishai government has any intention of doing so.
For an Israeli government to walk through that door, its leaders
would have to be vested with a sense of national destiny and a
modicum of responsibility and competence. But as Wednesday's
bodies-for-murderers deal with Hizbullah demonstrated, the
Olmert-Livni-Barak-Yishai government has no sense of national
destiny and no competence to lead the country."

MORENO

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